Warm-Up Exercises

Below you will find a variety of common warm-up exercises. It is important to understand fitness terminology used in descriptions because it is not suitable to simply use words such as up and down, or sideways, because the joints in the body move in a variety of ways that simple descriptions do not adequately describe. Below is a list of common fitness terms.

Common Fitness Terminology

The following words should be reviewed to help comprehension of technique descriptions. I have also included an excellent video from the YouTube Channel Corporis explaining each term coupled with demonstrations, as well as some great ways to remember the differences between terms.

  • DORSIFLEXION: Toes pulled up toward the knee
  • PLANTARFLEXION: Toes pointed down away from the knee
  • EVERSION Outward rotation of the sole of the foot
  • INVERSION: Inward rotation of the sole of the foot
  • SUPINE: Lying on the back
  • PRONE: Lying on the stomach
  • FLEXION: A movement that lessens the angle at a joint
  • EXTENSION: A movement that increases the angle at a joint
  • ABDUCTION: Moving a body part out to the side of the body
  • ADDUCTION: Bringing a body part closer to the body
  • SCAPULAR PROTRACTION: Elevating the scapula
  • SCAPULAR RETRACTION: Depressing the scapula

Now that we have some of the terminology under our belts, lets dive into the exercises. I will be categorizing each exercise based on the following criteria:

  • Movement Drills: These drills are completed with traveling movement, usually with a designated distance goal. Included within this section are several agility ladder drills, which help improve foot speed, develop lower body joint stability, as well as engaging your lungs and heart more.
  • Stationary Drills: These drills are completed in a small area with no traveling movement. Included within this section are several muscle activation drills which apply a low level of resistance to your muscles, further warming those muscles, readying them for the stress of the upcoming workout.

In general, I prefer to begin my warm-up with movement drills because they help to raise the core temperature quickly and help increase the blood flow and nutrients to your muscles which will help improve your flexibility. Once I have increased my core temperature adequately, I will then combine both types of drills, depending on the emphasis of that days workout. For example, if I have planned a workout targeting my lower body, I will complete some movement drills, followed by some full-body engagement drills (like the crawl exercises). Once my whole body is warmed up, I will then put together a mix of drills that further target the lower body to finish the warm-up.

Movement Warm-Up Drills

Movement warm-up drills emphasis both dynamic movement and dynamic flexibility. Drills emphasizing dynamic movement (DM) should be completed with a goal maximum distance of 20 yards. However, if 20 yards feels difficult, always adjust to fit your current fitness level. Drills emphasizing dynamic flexibility (DF) are closer to a static stretch, and due to this, the distance covered for the warm-up should be less and done with a walking pace. I recommend a maximum of 10 yards for these exercises. I have also included several crawling exercises which should be done for 10 yards each. Crawls are an excellent warm-up activity because they incorporate the entire body in a motion that helps improve strength, coordination, flexibility, and overall body awareness. The agility ladder drills will be for the length of the ladder and you will make several passes along the ladder per drill.

If you have limited space, most of these drills can be completed using a shortened linear path where you complete several passes per exercise, or a small circular path. Most of these drills can be completed outdoors, so if the weather is permitting, get some fresh air while you warm-up. If you are unsure as to the amount of repetitions you can complete per 10/20 yards for space reasons, I recommend finding a location where you can try the exercises with a 20 yard linear distance, and make a note of the average amount of each exercise you are able to complete. Transfer this to any adjustments for space.

For example, I head to the local high school football field and complete the high knee walk, finding that I am able to complete 20 repetitions per side. When I have limited space, I can use a circular motion until I reach 20 per side, or a shortened linear path completing as many passes as needed to reach my desired repetition amount.

Movement Warm-up Drills Index

Click on any of the links below to be taken directly to each exercise description.

Agility Ladder Drills

Stationary Warm-Up Drills

Stationary warm-up drills will put more emphasis on dynamic flexibility, however, dynamic movement will be utilized in some drills that do not require traveling movement (like jumping jacks). The good news with these drills is that you do not need much space, just a reasonably soft space such as a yoga mat, carpet, grass, etc.

Stationary Warm-Up Drills Index

Lower Body Drills
Upper Body Drills
  • Double-Arm Circles (Forward/Backward)
  • Single-Arm Circles (Forward/Backward)
  • Opposite Direction Double-Arm Circles
  • Body Hug Criss Cross Arm Swings
  • Alternating Arm Swings
  • German Arm Swings
  • T/Y/I Swings
  • T/Y/I Arm Circles
  • Core Wringing
  • Hip Circles
  • Around-the-Worlds
  • Shoulder Pass-Throughs Forward
  • Shoulder Pass-Throughs Backward
  • T/Y/I Shrugs
  • Sphinx Pose Neck Warm-Up Routine
  • Cobra Pose Push-Ups
  • Cobra Pose Core Rotations
  • Dynamic Puppy Pose
  • Dive Bombers
  • Dynamic Scorpion
  • Dynamic Iron Cross
  • Wrist Warm-Up Routine
Full-Body Drills
  • Sun Salutation
  • Prone Body Alternating Arm/Leg Raise
  • Superperson
  • Stationary Spider Push-Ups
  • Hip Heists

Per Aspera Ad Astra